How’s your marketing game plan going?

Marketing Game PlanI know everyone is anxious for spring to arrive but you have to admit, March got here in a hurry. You’re almost 25% of the way through the year. How are you doing on meeting your goals? If you aren’t hitting all your key metrics, maybe your marketing game plan is a little off.

Rather than wait until late in the year to do a course correction, let’s do it now so you still have most of the year to make up any lost ground. Let’s look at some of the common mistakes that get made.

Depth not breadth: While I applaud people for being ambitious, the truth is, most marketing plans are unrealistic. Even if you had nothing else to do all day, you’d never be able to execute everything you have in your plan.

That doesn’t serve you well. What usually happens is that a company kicks off the year with all of these big and bold marketing initiatives. But because you have so many plates spinning, you can’t possibly attend to all of them. Which means none of them get enough time and attention. As plates crash to the ground, you abandon many of the tactics in the plan and really have no idea which ones could have gained traction. Or you’re very hit or miss on your execution, which sends the wrong message to your audience.

Here’s my suggestion. Do about a third of what you thought could be accomplished. But, do that one-third better than you could have imagined. Great marketing is about leaving a lasting impression. It’s tough to do that with mediocre messaging or execution.

Deadlines are not optional: When you cut out two-thirds of your tactics, you absolutely can and need to deliver on the one-third. That’s not just about quality. As mundane as it sounds – deadlines matter. When you tell someone you’re going to send out a monthly e-newsletter and it goes out 7 times a year — that sends a message. When you offer quarterly webinars but cancel them because you under promoted them and didn’t attract enough bodies –- that sends a message.

After you trim back your marketing plan to a manageable level, you must commit to the timeline. This is particularly challenging if you wear other hats in the business. It’s easy to run from customer fire to customer fire. I hate to tell you, but the only time your own marketing is on fire is when the ship is about to sink. Don’t wait for that to happen. Your customers make their needs a priority for you. You have to do the same for your own marketing. If you do not carve out and protect the time, it just won’t get done.

Talk less, listen more: The marketing monologue is dead. There are so many ways for your consumers to talk to you, about you and around you – you’ve got to make listening a priority.

Do it formally by launching customer surveys, creating a client review board, or ask your best clients to test new products for you as part of an insider’s club. Do it informally by chatting with them at trade shows about how they’ve adapted your products, hang out with them on Facebook or in forums where they gather to talk about their work challenges.

Your best customers have plenty to say. Your least satisfied customers have plenty to say. The ones in the middle don’t care enough but if you show them that you care, they just might.

I know you’re probably tired of hearing me say this but marketing is simple, which is why it’s so difficult. We can’t help ourselves. We complicate it and muck it up. If you’ve gotten off track, now is the perfect time to do a course correction.